China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei on Friday said the chief U.S. climate negotiator either lacks common sense or is "extremely irresponsible" for saying that no U.S. climate financing should be going to China.
In unusually blunt language, He said he was "shocked" by U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern's comments earlier this week that China shouldn't expect any American climate aid money and that the United States was not in any debt to the world for its historical carbon emissions.
"I don't want to say the gentleman is ignorant," He told reporters at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. "I think he lacks common sense where he made such a comment vis-a-vis funds for China. Either lack of common sense or extremely irresponsible."
The world's two biggest greenhouse polluters have been exchanging barbs this week about the sincerity of their pledges to fight climate change.
In China's view, the U.S. and other rich countries have a heavy historical responsibility to cut emissions and any climate deal in Copenhagen should take into account a country's level of development.
China is grouped with the developing nations in the climate talks. But Stern said that when it comes to financing to help poor countries deal with climate change _ a key element in the Copenhagen talks _ the U.S. doesn't consider China one of the neediest countries.
"I don't envision public funds _ certainly not from the United States _ going to China," he said on Wednesday. "China to its great credit has a dynamic economy, and sits on some two trillion dollars in reserves. So we don't think China would be the first candidate for public funding."
The Chinese official said China wasn't asking for money, but suggested the U.S. and China had different responsibilities in dealing with global warming. He urged Stern to read the U.S.-China joint statement on climate change issued when President Barack Obama visited China three weeks ago.
"China, with funds or without funds from external sources, will do what we can," He said. "We have been doing this without external support for the past dozen or so years. And our commitment from now to 2020 is pledged on the basis of no external support. It's a unilateral action."
China has pledged to cut "carbon intensity" _ a measure of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of production _ by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.